How Neapolitan can a man get?

I was going through some of my old travel journals – remembering this moment made me smile.



As I write I’m sitting in a restaurant in Naples waiting for my pizza to arrive. How Neapolitan can a man get?


On the plane I spilled coffee on the only pair of casual trousers I had brought with me (What was I thinking?) and then left my hat under the seat. So today I strolled around the streets of Naples looking for a hat and a pair of cheap trousers.


I often forget how stylish the Italians can be. ‘Formal’ to the Italian–American males I grew up with, meant wearing a shirt with sleeves. Here, street after Neapolitan street was filled with boutiques – that all screamed – “Go Away.” Some shops were pure white and seemed to have only a half a dozen dresses in them. Everywhere I walked I saw spectacularly turned-out Italian woman staring into shop windows with there huge sunglasses lifted up – mesmerised by the sight of a pair of shoes that cost the same as a condo in New Jersey. I went into the tourist office and asked them to teach me Italian for, “Where is the local WallMart?”


I couldn’t find a cheap anything anywhere. I finally cracked when I saw an old man sitting behind the counter of a hat shop that probably was there when Mussolini was a problem teenager. I paid way too much for a cream Panama then stepped into the street and donned it. The old man chased me down the cobbles and tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned to him, he adjusted the brim and said “Bella.” A moment worth the price of the hat.

John L


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